Tesla sued for death of 18-year-old in car accident, defective battery blamed

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/09/tesla-sued-for-death-of-18-yea.html


The 116mph on a 4 lane non-divided residential street (30mph) didn’t have anything to do with it of course. Parents said that he had a ticket for doing 112mph before and that they had asked the Tesla service in the area to put a speed limiter on the car but that the technicians had removed it without their knowledge/consent.

I lived in the area for 20 years, Seabreeze Blvd where the accident happened is the beach road- A1A - the 116mph would have been either in the area with hotels on one side and beach on the other (no divider between north and southbound for most of it, the one area that is divided is hotels / apartments on both sides of a 2 lane stretch) or in the residential section on the curve just below that - there are low walls on both sides of the road there. 112mph on any road is dangerous to others, in that area it’s just insanely wreckless.

Area usually has pedestrians at all hours because bars, hotels and beach. I believe the speed limit is 30mph for the whole stretch.

I guess that’s not as enticing a headline as defective batteries though.


But that doesn’t make it false


Aw fuck, not another one of these threads.

My sympathy for the families who lost loved ones, and for the readers/participants of this post.


No, it doesn’t make it false, but it does give the proper context. The headline makes it sound like the battery just burst into flame, rather than as the consequence of crashing the car at four times the posted speed limit.


I’m also doubting the battery as cause of death. Unless the battery somehow caused him to hit a concrete wall going 116, there’s not a lot more than pure physics to explain death. The subsequent battery fire was likely incidental. A crash into a wall at that speed is not very survivable, period.


Curious, how much heavier is an electric vehicle like a Tesla vs. a similar sized gas powered car? I’m guessing the Tesla battery is very heavy and at 116mph, well.

I don’t believe the battery is designed to handle that kind of abuse according to design specifications, so I don’t believe it would be “defective.” Also doing 3x the speed limit (and possibly 4x the speed limit for the turn) is generally not a good idea.

NTSB Report with pictures of area.
About 6:46 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, 2018…


The great thing about the US is, you can sue anyone for anything. Doesn’t mean the case has merit. I’m sure this case will go nowhere, but the lawyers will get paid. Sorry, the kid was an idiot. If his parents knew that he needed a limiter to not be an idiot, maybe they shouldn’t have let him drive. On the other hand, he was 18, so he was an adult - and supposedly able to make his own decisions.


Yeah, I’m surprised the Tesla was in such good shape (see the pdf posted by Apenzott) after watching a 100mph crash test the mythbusters did: www.discovery.com/tv-shows/mythbusters/videos/100-mph-crash
Nobody would survive the Mythbuster crash. Surprised to hear that the rear passenger of the Tesla was ejected and survived.


Model S is a big heavy car… going 116 (then roughly around 90 when they hit the concrete wall)
would an internal combustion engine car burst into flames smashing into a concrete wall at around 100+ mph?
you bet it would… because physics!


Even if the battery fire contributed to the death, a fire is a likely outcome of a 116 mph crash in any vehicle, and does not indicate a defect.

Any safety outcomes of this are more likely to be to do with the protocols for extinguishing battery fires. According to the NTSB report, the battery reignited twice after being extinguished – once while being towed away and once at the storage yard. In this case, those fires were easily extinguished, but that certainly could pause a threat.

One of the biggest risks from battery fires is actually that they start and spread slowly because of all the containment built into the packs. A pack that is damaged enough to short out a cell can take hours to ignite and spread throughout the battery before it even becomes obvious. This is good for people involved in a crash as it gives them time to escape, but can lead to “spontaneous” ignition or re-ignition long after the fact.


This is cool:


but yeah, it was totally the battery that killed the guy.


So if non electric car had crashed at 116mph in residential area while being driven recklessly and the fuel task had exploded, they would be suing also ??


The NTSB preliminary report says the speed at time of impact was 86mph. The 116 MPH speed was three seconds before impact. It was going 108 MPH two seconds before impact. 60-0 braking for a Model S is about 108 feet (as tested by MotorTrend).


According to the local CBS station, the medical examiner ruled the driver died from thermal injuries and the other front-seat passenger died from a combination of thermal injuries and blunt force trauma. The rear seat passenger was thrown clear of the vehicle and survived.


While reckless, it certainly wasn’t “wreckless” ^^’.

cough Ahem. I’ll be moseying along now…

Not often you see THAT as the line. Usually that’s the guy they have to…er…fetch a mop bucket for.


Yeah, spotted my typo after it’d been up for a bit and decided not to edit it out of laziness.

Uhm, people die of thermal injuries from gasoline fires every day.

You store that much chemical energy in one place, whether in a gas tank or a battery, and things are going to get very ugly if it’s released in an uncontrolled manner.

But battery fires are news, and car fires in general aren’t, because everyone knows that gasoline burns.


When Richard Hammond crashed the electric Rimac Concept One on TV in 2017, the fire burst out in seconds (though as you say not so fast that Hammond wasn’t able to escape first).

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Hooray for victim blaming.